The Buddhist monks blessing trees to prevent deforestation

Wrapped in orange robes, occasionally with ornaments nestled into the roots and incense burning at the foot, such trees seen across Thailand could be confused for an art installation. Instead, their decoration is a signifier that the trees have been blessed by a Buddhist monk and shouldn’t be cut down.

“[Monks] are doing it to get people to understand their connection with nature and understand their responsibility towards nature,” said Sue Darlington, professor emerita of anthropology and Asian studies and author of “The Ordination of a Tree.”

As of 2014, Thailand was losing an average of 140,000 hectares (346,000 acres) of forest cover each year to deforestation and forest fires. The destruction of trees contributes to a loss of biodiversity, increases greenhouse gas emissions, enables flooding, and threatens wildlife.

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Rebecca L. Root